Curriculum

Preparation for Practice

From your first day on campus you'll engage with an academic program proven to develop dynamic thinkers, leaders, litigators, and negotiators.

Year 1: The Foundation

You’ll begin with constitutional and criminal law, civil procedure, contracts, property, and torts. You’ll also complete Law Practice I & II, our core two-semester Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing course, which provides three experiential learning credits and a foundation in critical thinking, analysis, and communication.

Years 2 and 3: Ethics, Experiential Learning, and Specialization

After the first year, we push you to master professional responsibility and hone skills through advanced legal writing and experiential learning opportunities. More than 220 electives are offered so you can focus on more specific areas of law as you prepare to launch a career.

You can also expand your career possibilities by exploring overseas externships, exchange programs, and any of our seven dual degrees.

First-year students study traditional topics and complete classes emphasizing the sources of law, professional responsibility, and lawyering skills. 1L courses include Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Property, Torts, Criminal Law, and Law Practice I & II.

First-Year Elective (3 credits)

2016–2017 electives include Deals & Disputes, Evidence, Introduction to Civil Litigation Practice, Legal Interviewing and Counseling, and Negotiation.

Civil Procedure (4 credits)

Introduction to rules governing litigation, using the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Covers the entire sequence of events, from commencement to final disposition.

Constitutional Law (4 credits)

Introduces the concept of judicial review of legislation and executive action, focusing on federal powers and the interstate commerce clause.

Contracts (4 credits)

A look into what constitutes a contract, plus the various principles that govern contract enforcement. Emphasis on common law rules with attention to the statutory changes the Uniform Commercial Code imposes.

Criminal Law (4 credits)

The elements of crimes, defenses, and punishment. Covers the common law of crime and the Model Penal Code.

Law Practice I & II (5 credits total)

A problem-based curriculum that equips students with essential analytical, research, and written communication skills. Includes a fully integrated research curriculum, classroom discussion of analysis, and individualized feedback on predictive and advocacy memoranda assignments.

Property (4 credits)

Examines the substantive law of real property—including initial acquisition, property theory, the right to exclude, land use regulation, servitudes, conveyancing, landlord-tenant law, zoning, and takings.

Torts (4 credits)

Inspects non-consensual relations among individuals and emphasizes negligence law, the measure of damages, and newer developments like products liability.

 

Students can choose from more than 200 courses. There’s a core group of upper-level elective courses that most students take—including Evidence, Corporations, Administrative Law, and Intellectual Property Law and Tax. These courses are often prerequisites for other courses and appear on many states’ bar examinations. Beyond this core group, many students enroll in courses that reflect their interests and intended career paths.

With the following exceptions, all upper-level courses are electives.

Exceptions

Students must complete:

  • A professional responsibility course
  • A course satisfying the “Perspectives on Law and Justice” requirement
  • A course satisfying the Upper-Level Writing requirement
  • At least six experiential learning credits
  • A class covering lawyering skills may substitute for the experiential learning credits.

Class Formats

Instruction formats vary, from large, lecture-based classes to small seminars of 10–15 students.

Many classes qualify for the ABA experiential learning designation, in which students develop skills through simulation and other formats with faculty supervision. These classes include clinical programs, externships, and simulation courses on topics like mediation and tax law research. Some of these courses may occupy only a portion of a student’s semester schedule, while others are fully immersive—especially our various Semester in Practice externships in London, Washington, DC, The Hague, and other cities.

 

Students can enroll in any course, subject to prerequisite requirements for certain upper-level courses and limited enrollment courses.

Each student must take between 12–17 hours each semester. In their first year, all JD candidates must complete the prescribed course schedule. During their 2L and 3L years, students must take 53 credit hours. After their first year, students are strongly advised to take 26 credit hours per year.

To graduate, students must be in residence, full-time, for six semesters and must complete a minimum of 85 credit hours.

Upon graduation from Boston College Law School graduates shall have acquired competency in the following:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law;
  2. Legal analysis and reasoning, legal research, problem-solving, and written and oral communication in the legal context;
  3. Exercise of proper professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system;
  4. Other professional skills needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession; and
  5. A readiness for intellectual and professional engagement, whether in local, national or global settings, that incorporates respect for knowledge and for the dignity of the human person.

We’re one of the few law schools in the country to offer a full-year research and writing program taught by full-time faculty.

Helping Students Thrive

Our Academic Success Program (ASP) helps 1L students adopt learning strategies that lead to academic success, by assisting with classes and exam prep. ASP is open daily—no appointment required.

Helping Students Thrive

Our Academic Success Program (ASP) helps 1L students adopt learning strategies that lead to academic success, by assisting with classes and exam prep. ASP is open daily—no appointment required.